It’s been a few weeks since I’ve mentioned Cooper in this column, and he has become rather perturbed.
He was online the other day and discovered I had written a column about Hobbs, the cat from next door.
For a few days, Cooper did not speak to me and gave me the cold shoulder. He walked past my recliner and, instead of leaping up and curling into my lap, simply cruised past and flopped down by the living room window.
Normally, Cooper would come to bed with us and sleep right next to me. For the past week, though, he has not come into the bedroom at all, and I think I spied him making a reservation online for the local Holiday Inn Express.
I don’t know how he expects to pull this off because he does not have a credit card, nor does he have transportation to the hotel. He’s an indoor cat, so I am pretty certain he does not know how to get to the hotel anyway. I’m not sure, but I think Uber has rules against felines using their services.
The other morning, I came out to breakfast, and Cooper was in the living room. I wished him a good morning and sat at the coffee table. I asked him whether he wanted to watch a movie, and he looked me in the eye, picked up his little stuffed octopus and walked out of the room.
I followed him down the hall to the bedroom, thinking he wanted to play with the octopus with me, only to find he took the octopus under my bed and there was no room for me at all. I was a third wheel. There would be no octopus play for me.
“Coop,” I asked later, “what’s the problem?”
Silence. Maine Coons rarely speak, so I didn’t immediately catch on that I was getting the silent treatment.
The stare I received was not entirely blank but one that asked, “You don’t know, do you?”
The truth was, I didn’t know. I didn’t even understand. The argument can be made that understanding the behavior of cats is akin to figuring out the flavor of the number nine.
Cooper walked past me and stopped. He gestured at me with his chin as if to say, “Come along, idiot, and I will show you.”
We walked through the living room, past the coffee table and the couch, around the recliner to the front window. Our front windows are tall and narrow and reach floor level. Outside the window, on the porch, in a state of languid repose, was Hobbs. You know, the cat from next door.
“Explain that,” Cooper seemed to say.
“Bud, you know Hobbs is not our cat.”
“Coulda fooled me. Every day, you come home from work and stop and pet him in the driveway. He’s nothing but a big, ginger jerk. He stays outside.”
“I know, Coop. He also has his own family and his own house. He just likes us as well. He knows we are a house that is friendly to cats, so he hangs out here sometimes. He feels safe here.”
“He’s still a jerk.”
“He’s actually very nice. If you’d take the time to meet …”
“Mom already said that wasn’t happening.”
“Well, nothing, You know what she says goes. Remember when you wanted that rabbit? She said no. She said I wouldn’t get along with a rabbit. She’s right, you know. I don’t like rabbits. Never have, never will. Nosy buggers, with those big ears, listening in on everything.”
“What do you want me to do with Hobbs?”
“I was going to say you could scare him away. Put on a dog suit and go outside and bark a lot.”
“No, Cooper.” I said. “I’m not putting on a dog suit.”
“You could always drop a big box of mice in his yard and …”
“I’m not dropping a big box of mice in his yard.”
“How about just going outside and telling him to beat it?”
“I tried that.”
“Picking him up and carrying him to his front door?”
“Tried that, too.”
Cooper looked at me, more than a little frustrated. He had exhausted all ideas.
“I guess I’m just gonna have to get used to him.”
“I guess so, Coop.”
“I don’t have to like him.”
“No, bud, you don’t. He’ll go home when he’s ready.”
Cooper shrugged and walked away. A few moments later, he reappeared in the living room, toting his little stuffed octopus.
“I have an octopus.” Cooper said.
“Yes, you do.”
“Do you want to watch ‘Ice Station Zebra’ with me and my octopus?”
“Sure, bud. I’ll get the movie ready.”
“Yeah, Coop. What is it?”
“Close the blinds, please.”
“Is the sun in your eyes?”
“Nope. I just don’t want Hobbs to be able to see the movie.”
“Isn’t that being mean?”
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.